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The Essential 4 Series: Inhale and Exhale II (The Process of Breath)

Posted Oct 23 2008 6:05pm

I'm going to explain a couple of things to you. Before I start, I want to tell you that most people's bodies are functioning in "emergency" or "survival" mode on a constant basis. This is because of stress, your mind-body dis connect, and other reasons that I will reveal in later posts.

The digestive process starts with your mouth.
The breathing process starts with your nose.
(I have tried my experiment with 5 more people and it was basically the same results as my last blog. I did notice, however, that people who are aware of their breathing and know how to breathe had less problems than those who did not.)
In the wintertime, the air is dry and cold. Since your nose likes to be moist, your body will naturally send mucus to your nostrils so that it can be moist (that's why when you breathe in the wintertime through your nose, the boogies will start to run down your nose. Clear mucus means that your body is trying to moisturize; thick mucus means that your body is trying to heal itself from sickness). Since your mind thinks that mucus is a bad thing (even though your body has a certain amount of mucus that is needed for many functions), it will want you to open your mouth so that you don't have nasal drip. This is where the mind-body dis connect comes in.
The problem with this is that your mouth should only used for breathing in emergencies. Your nostrils has hair in it to help trap and filter out dust and other toxins so that you lungs can take in air. When you breathe through your mouth, the air (with the dust and toxins) goes straight to your throat. This is the catalyst for a sore throat, which can lead to colds (head and chest) and flu.
Another thing people do that is a no-no is try to blow their nose (or suck the mucus in) while outside, in the cold. When you do this, you are making your sinuses even drier, which will cause the body to form more mucus, to moisturize and heal the damage caused. Constantly doing this (especially outside in the cold) will decrease the efficiency of your nasal functions, which can lead to head colds.

It is said that you can live for a month (or two, depending on the state of your health) without food. You can live for days without water. However, without air, you will die within minutes!! Air consists of 77% nitrogen and 21% oxygen and other substances like water vapor and other minute gases. Sure, nitrogen is important. It's a key ingredient in amino acids, which makes protein. It is also a key component in animal wastes, in the form of uric acid and urea (aka urine). But speaking terms of breathing, oxygen is what we will focus on.

Our bodies depend on oxygen to live. Enough oxygen must reach the tiny cells throughout our body to feed them, giving them the energy necessary for life. Oxygen cleans your blood and helps the blood to remove the waste product Carbon Dioxide. For plants and bacteria, oxygen is the result of photosynthesis, where light (from the sun) is transformed into energy, using Carbon Dioxide and Water.


It's one thing to talk about the respiratory system but it's even more amazing to visualize it properly to understand. Most people, myself included, learned from school that the respiratory system looks like this:
While this is not an incorrect description of the respiratory system, it is inaccurate and in a way, misleading. Let me show you this picture so I can better explain why I feel this way:
In this picture, you see some added organs - the diaphragm and the abdomen. The reason why the first picture is misleading is because it promotes chest breathing. When you breathe from your chest, you're actually putting extra work on your lungs. Proper breathing comes from the diaphragm and the abdomen.

The purpose of respiration is to exchange gases. Oxygen comes in and Carbon Dioxide goes out (one process of elimination, the elimination of gaseous waste). When you breathe from the chest area like the lungs, air comes in but not enough to fully oxygenate the lungs, which in turn gives the blood and cells their necessary dose of oxygen. Breathing from the diaphragm ensures that the lungs are completely filled with air, which in turn properly oxygenates the blood and cells as well as fully excrete Carbon Dioxide. The abdomen complements the diaphragm by making sure the enough muscle movement is done in the lungs so that transporting nutrients (oxygen) and toxins (carbon dioxide) is done for the whole body.

What you need to understand is that the lungs are truly a filter. The upper part of the lungs filter out the carbon dioxide and the lower part of your lungs also aid in the movement of this filtering process to the lymphatic system and your blood.

Now that you understand what organs are truly used for breathing and a basic understanding of how this works, I'm going to leave it here. Next time, we are going to get into how to properly breathe through the diaphragm and exercises that can help you attain that kind of breathing. I will also go further into how the breath can affect parts of your body and do amazing things like ending pain (yep, you read right). This will lead into techniques that can help you to breathe properly and gain better understanding of this complex process of breathing.

Until then,
stay strong, stay healthy, and fight dis-ease!

References - put your mouse over the pictures to see where they have come from. I will write the links out very soon. :)
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